Classroom Management

Ultimate Ice Breaker? Making & Flying Paper Planes!

August 31, 2015
Illustration of a paper airplane

While watching the movie 'Paper Planes' (in Norway), I was struck by the idea of using Paper Planes as an Ice breaker and/or team building activity. Cheap, easy, fast and fun! Though, after Googling the idea, I quickly realized that it has already been discovered for just that.

So, what I am going to share does not warrant a PhD (or an award), but it does have it's own recipe tailored to my taste.


This is what you should have to make your Paper Plane ice breaker/team building activity a success:

  • A long hallway or open space (ideally 20 meters or longer)
  • Red tape (to mark the launch line) 
  • Measuring tape/stick (if possible)
  • A4 paper (80 - 120 mm, preferably different colors)
  • Stop watch (or a smart phone or tablet)
  • Awards (e.g. chocolate bar for the winner)

Here are a few examples on how we can use paper planes as an ice breaker or team building activity to connect and engage participants involved:


From one sheet of paper, participants are asked to design the coolest paper plane. If they want to decorate or color the paper plane that can be encouraged, but remember to set the rules before the game, otherwise some competitive participants could complicate things for the worse.

To make judging more objective, you might want to add an evaluation rubric to guide participants. Here you could encourage self or peer assessment.

Another approach is to empower everyone to vote for the best paper plane. Here, we could use polling tools like Poll Everywhere (free version limited to 40 respondents), or Google Forms (unlimited respondents for free) if you have a larger group.


Instead of design, you could challenge participants to throw their newly designed paper planes as far possible from a fixed spot (using red tape). Ideally, you need a long hallway or an open space in or within close proximity of the workshop/training/class area.

To differentiate between the paper planes, you could use A4 sheets of various colors.


Instead of throwing furthest, challenge participants to make paper planes that fly for the longest time. For this, you would need a stop watch to measure the time for each paper plane participating. Also, here you could use Google Spreadsheet to keep all the times online, organized and fresh.


Have each participant write their name on a piece of paper, along with two interesting facts about themselves. Then have all participants fold their papers into planes. Everyone should toss their paper plane into the air, then pick up one that lands nearby. The person picking up the paper plane must open it, read the information, and find the person it belongs to. This exercise has an element of play that will relax participants, and they will get to know someone else at the event by reading the information on the paper.


Finally, to spice the activity further, ask participants to throw the paper plane towards a target. This could be everything from a cone, landing strip, bulls-eye, or even yourself. You as the target could make the paper plane activity really fun, as participants will have a good laugh trying to hit you with their planes. Just keep some distance (7+ meters) to ensure you can react to avoid any injury.

All the best and don't be too serious about winning! Break the ice and have fun!

This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we’ve preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own.

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